Jade Fire Gold by June C. L. Tan
Published by Harper Teen
Young Adult Fantasy
Release Date : October 12th 2021
Girls of Paper and Fire meets The Tiger at Midnight in June CL Tan’s stunning debut, inspired by Chinese mythology, with rich magic and an epic slow-burn romance.
In an empire on the brink of war . . .
Ahn is no one, with no past and no family.
Altan is a lost heir, his future stolen away as a child.
When they meet, Altan sees in Ahn a path to reclaiming the throne. Ahn sees a way to finally unlock her past and understand her arcane magical abilities.
But they may have to pay a far deadlier price than either could have imagined.
Ferocious action, shadowy intrigue, and a captivating romance collide in June CL Tan’s debut, a stunning homage to the Xianxia novel with a tender, beating heart, perfect for fans of The Bone Witch and We Hunt the Flame.
Content Warnings: self-harm (gouging, eye horror; non-graphic), child abuse (physical, verbal, emotional manipulation/gaslighting), parent death (implied, off-page), character deaths mentions and descriptions of fantasy/magical violence (blood, war, political violence), mentions and descriptions of physical symptoms that might be triggering to those with emetophobia
The heart is not a weakness.
ARC provided by the publisher Harper Teen through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review as part of blog tour organized by TBR and Beyond Tours
Jade Fire Gold is a well done Chinese fantasy epic, brimming with potential, and an ambitious debut that is ready to breakthrough the young adult genre.
First and foremost I would like to thank TBR and Beyond Tours for choosing me as one of the many amazing book bloggers for Jade Fire Gold tour from October 11th to October 17th. Thank you as well to the author and publisher Harper Teen for providing an ARC (Advance Readers Copy) as part of this blog tour.
You will find it difficult to treasure that which is most precious to you.
Last year nearing the end of the year there were a lot of announcements of books that are anticipated to release in 2021. Many of these books are Asian inspired fantasy with their own unique blurbs and synopsis’. One of them that caught my eye is Jade Fire Gold by June C. L. Tan. Marketed as a book inspired by Chinese mythology with elements from wuxia and xianxia novels set in an Asiatic landscape of Avatar : The Last Airbender—reading this pitch I am immediately hooked by the prospects of a reading a story that encapsulates all these elements. The tweet from June pitching this book about Katara being the dark avatar and Zuko hunting her down further pushes my intrigue towards this book. Then 2021 rolls by with the cover reveal it sealed the deal for me. The US cover art is done by Guweiz, lettering by Catherine Lee, and designed by Catherine Lee & Jenna Stempel-Lobell.
Jade Fire Gold is a Chinese mythology inspired young adult fantasy standalone by debut author June C. L. Tan. The story follows two perspectives : Anh and Altan. Living within a desert, Anh struggles to take care of her grandmother, scraping by with the little money and medicine she has. Adding to that Anh has a secret—a secret that would cost her life as conjuring magic is forbidden in the empire. In Anh’s case she has dark magic inside her and that only she has. With this magic many are after her looking to take advantage of Anh’s power that is prophesized to hold the answer that could save the empire. Altan is the crown prince of the empire that was thought to be long gone that has come back to avenge his family and take back what is rightfully his.
You cannot escape your fate. The gods have chosen you for a reason.
The world of Jade Fire Gold is highly inspired by the vast Asiatic setting of Avatar : The Last Airbender from the dessert where Anh lives, the spiritual realm that’s guarded by the soul beast, the nautical travels, etc. There are also many wuxia or xianxia elements present within the world from Altan having a master or teacher that guides him, abilities that stem from cultivation, the martial arts sects and clans, etc. Seeing all these elements come together in the world building of this story is unique and refreshing. The magic system is an elemental based meaning it is connected to the five natural elements (fire, water, earth, metal, and wind) that can be mastered through cultivation. The people that are gifted with the abilities that has potential to wield the elements are the Tiensai. Only a few Tiensai are able to cultivate and master an element or maybe more than one element if they’re the lucky few that are born with the this ability. Any reader can easily grasp the magic system as it is straight forward and isn’t too complex to understand.
June’s writing is accessible and descriptive making the story all the much more immersive. The story is fast paced with good plot progression resulting in the transitions from one perspective to the next to be well synchronized and it flowed nicely. Jade Fire Gold is an easy read that isn’t just a story that follows one plot line but also many plot lines. The reveals are done marvelously as I didn’t expect the turn of events that happened during the ending. I flew through this book and with every page I enjoyed my time reading it. It is a light read filled with fantastical elements that I can easily immerse myself into without much thought. The themes that arises within the story about identity and one’s will to shape their own destiny without the pressure of other people is inspiring to read. The story of Anh and Altan that are filled with staggering parallels about both wanting to do the right thing and break free from their confines of their own expectations to take full reign of their life were conveyed beautifully within the story.
Though there are a few gripes I have about the writing that are entirely subjective to me. The writing wasn’t well balanced enough in terms of consistency and balance between the world building, plot, and characters. It all felt disconnected in some parts so the story lacked the cohesion that could elevate the story further and bring a sense of harmony to all the components. Truthfully before going into Jade Fire Gold I had to set my expectations because of the many reviews I’ve seen my friends gave for this book. In my case I think Jade Fire Gold falls in the category of books that isn’t in my age range. There are many young adult books that can still be read by people of my age but some don’t and this book falls in the latter category.
You may have been chosen in some way, but you can still choose your own path.
As a reviewer the one thing I always tend to decide whether a book worked me or not is the characters. Though I liked certain elements that are presented within the story the characters didn’t fully grip me as I thought they would. There are many crucial and emotional moments that has potential to push the characters beyond their limits but these moments aren’t realized to their full potential. All of the characters has a good base to be noteworthy with their own distinct personalities, back stories, motivations, and potential for development. But once they are given the chance to go through the development the execution fell flat as most of their obstacles are easily resolved. I’ve watched wuxia and xianxia dramas before, I understand that some of the resolutions are only convenient for plot progression but they make it up with their well fleshed out believable characters. It tends to happen a lot in the story that resulted in me not forming any attachments to any of the characters. Two out of the three romance plot lines are established off page making it hard for me to believe the connection shared between these characters. The one relationship that is established on page though full of potential it was a case of insta-love. I liked the representation in the story of a queer romance and the unique cast of characters but it lacked that emotional depth I sought for in the relationship dynamics between them.
Wishing is pointless. Praying is for fools. I am the only one who can control my fate.
Final thoughts, Jade Fire Gold is a solid young adult debut that has potential to introduce readers into a new sub-genre of fantasy that is inspired by Chinese mythology with it’s wuxia and xianxia elements. It is a good debut that I will recommend to anyone that is looking for a light fast paced read with attractive characterization and fantastical martial arts sequences. Jade Fire Gold’s themes of identity and shaping one’s fate will truly pull you into this world of soul beasts, magic swords, and elemental magic. Luckily for you all the book just released on October 12th 2021 so be sure to pick up a copy!
The quotes in this review were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
About the Author
June CL Tan grew up in Singapore where she was raised on a diet of classic books and wuxia movies, caffeine and congee. After obtaining three degrees, she decided she had enough of academia. Thankfully, those degrees were somewhat related to telling stories and now, she resides in New York City, writing under the watchful eye of her crafty cat. Jade Fire Gold is her debut novel.
Giveaway (US Only)
One winner will receive a finished copy of Jade Fire Gold. The giveaway starts on October 11th and ends on October 18th!
Click here to enter!
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